Last month I introduced myself and told you about how I quickly fell in love with the motorcycle lifestyle a bit later in life. I also wrote that I wanted to change the world for the better. This month I want to share with you how I have been doing that.
Originally I started planning a ride and as I asked a few very close friends what they thought about my idea I was getting negative feedback. I kept hearing people say the same kind of thing but in different ways. Their input included comments like, “This seems kind of selfish, and I have never known you to be selfish.”
Ouch! But they were right. What I wanted to do didn’t really serve any purpose.
So I went back to the drawing board a bit and thought about it some. I have always been big on doing my best to help others grow from within. This time I had to look in the mirror and make that person grow.
One day, out of the blue, it hit me like a load of bricks. Suicide prevention! That is what I will ride for. But it needs to be a long ride. 100,000 miles. I need to talk to as many people as possible. The suicide epidemic in the United States is bad, and sadly, it is only getting worse.
In 2016, 44,965 people decided to take their own lives. This is a 1.6-percent increase from 2015. It is and has been the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States for too long. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in college students, the third-leading cause of death for 15–24 year olds, and it costs taxpayers $69 billion annually.
We can do better!
It was time to start planning now.
I crunched some numbers and figured that riding roughly 400 miles per day, six days a week should have me completing the mileage around Thanksgiving. I started looking into sponsors and was able to get a few companies on board quickly. I would use my retirement and disability to fund the day-to-day expenses of the trip. I would camp or stay at friends’ houses as often as possible to keep costs down.
The mainframe of the plan had been set. Now to fine tune it. I looked on AFSP.org and found their lists of events and started plugging dates into a calendar in my phone. I added important dates that I would need to be home for, and talked with my loving and amazing girlfriend for her input. She was able to provide insight of some overlooked minor details.
I ordered a 2018 Road King and all of the accessories that I knew I would need to make the trip as smooth as possible. I pulled a few parts off of my 2014 Street Glide that would be useful and help save some money. After all, we are on a budget! It was all coming together, yet I had only told a small handful of close friends and family.
The bike and parts arrived and on November 10, the Marine Corps birthday, I brought her home. That night I got to work getting it set up for the ride. I needed to have the 500-mile break-in done and 1,000-mile service performed prior to getting on the road and ensure that there were no issues or adjustments needed.
It’s odd how you can ask an 8-year-old, “What should I name the new motorcycle?” And the name that she gives works. Merriam Webster defines a trinity as a few things, but the one that fits this cause is “a group of three closely-related persons or things”
Me, the bike, and a cause.
Trinity it is!
On December 15, 2017, I launched the Facebook and Instagram “Ride Out of the Darkness” pages and started telling the world. Support poured in!
Since January 1, 2018, I have been on the road riding to as many American Foundation for Suicide Prevention “Out of the Darkness Community Walks” as possible. At the time of this writing I have ridden over 25,000 miles and attended seven walks. Each one has been an amazing experience. People from all walks of life come together for many different reasons, but one commonality is, sadly, suicide. However, the support for one another is breathtaking!
Right from the start this trip has already made a positive change in my life.
I thank you for coming back to read this month’s column, and hope to have you back in June when I will share my first experience that I had at the Edinburg, Texas, Out of the Darkness Community Walk. It truly was an amazing experience.
Until then, ride safe, remember that you are loved, and remember that you have purpose. Never give up!